How not to follow up on a web lead: 3 teachable moments from my Salesforce sales call

by Erika Cannon
[email protected]

I recently downloaded a study from Pardot about lead nurturing. This is of interest to me, because that’s what we do, so I’m interested in how other people do it.

The study came to my attention through MarketingProfs, a marketing website to whose newsletter I subscribe. Sometimes they send interesting stuff, sometimes they don’t.

I’m no dummy, nor am I naïve. I know that when I download something, my contact info goes into the queue for more intensive nurturing. Again, that’s what we do, so I get it.

But two calls a day, all from different people, in different cities?

So on day four, I finally answer the call.

“Hi Erika, this is Mike from Salesforce.”

Mind you, I downloaded a report from Pardot, and it came from a Pardot email address. I know Pardot is owned by Salesforce, but I had to go back and check the email to see if that’s how it was branded. It was, but that’s not what I remembered. I just remembered Pardot.

“Hey Mike.”

“We received your name from a third party partner that you recently downloaded a study about marketing automation and I was wondering if you were considering purchasing a platform.”

“What? What’s a third party partner?”

I know what a third party partner is, but I was trying to put myself in the place of someone who isn’t in the marketing space, as most of our clients are not. And, frankly, I did not remember how I got to the Pardot study. I didn’t remember who sent it to me.

“Um, you know, one of our partners. Let me see, it looks like it was sent to you by Envoss.”

I don’t even know what he said. Upon reflection, maybe he said MProfs. Anyway, I couldn’t understand him, and he was clearly reading from the download report.

“Envoss? I don’t know what that is. What is that?”

“Well,” Mike continued, “It’s like a person that sent you the email….anyway, are you in the market for a marketing automation platform?”

“A what?”

Does a non-marketing business owner or sales guy even know what a marketing automation platform is? And, the report was about lead nurturing, not marketing automation. Again, I’m trying to wear the shoes of most of our clients, who just want to sell something, not master the marketing world.

“I have that you downloaded a study on marketing automation, so are you looking to buy one or are you comparing tools?”


“No you’re not looking to buy, or comparing?”

At this point I’m just messing with him, bless his heart.


“But you downloaded a study.”


“So would you like to see a demo of how it works?”


“Are you looking for a tool or not?”


“Why did you download the study?”

Now he’s defensive that I don’t want to know more just because I downloaded the study.

“I’m just doing research.”

“Oh. OK. Thanks for your time.”


I’ll front load this critique by admitting that I don’t want to buy it, and that I’m checking up on the competition, and that I was testing him, but there are several teachable moments from this call:

  1. Cross branding: Mike called from Salesforce, referencing a Pardot study, on a lead from Envoss, whatever that is. Or was it MProfs? Ad agencies will tell you that branding is everything, but let’s just pick one, preferably the one that sent me the email. I’m an American in the 21st century. I can only remember so much, and my attention span is less than that of a goldfish. He should have said:

“Hey Erika, this is Mike from Pardot.”

  1. Industry jargon: Mike talked about third party partners, marketing automation, platforms. If I weren’t in the biz, I might not know what any of those words are. Use words that your prospects will recognize, or that were included in the information you sent to them. And, you don’t have to give away the secret sauce. He should have said:

“We recently sent you a study you requested from Pardot on Lead Nurturing. I’m just calling to make sure you received it, and to see if we can talk about it. Is now a good time?”

  1. One-sided conversation: Never once did Mike ask who I was, what my company did, or why I was interested in a study on lead nurturing. He knew nothing about me. He just wanted to sell to me. Rude. He should have said:

“Can you tell me about how you find new leads, and how you nurture those leads currently?” Or, ideally, since they have my email address, and could intelligently discern that my address is directly correlated to my website: “I visited your website and see that you’re in the business of prospecting. Do you need help executing that process for your clients? What tools do you currently use?”

Who knows, if Mike had been courteous and willing to have a conversation with me instead of a one-sided sales pitch, he may have convinced me to use them as a resource. But my frustration with his handling of the call led me to toy with him, which frustrated him to end the call.

I wonder how many of his calls end that way, and if he even wonders why.

Don’t assume that just because someone visited your site, or downloaded your paper, that they are ready to buy from you, or even have a complete understanding of what you do. Use those electronic behaviors as a jumping off point to start a conversation, not join it at the close.


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